About Kate

I own, and use, a library card, a record player, a sewing machine and a meat smoker.  Ride my bicycle every day and will, sometimes, wear my roller skates in the house. Have a wealth of useless knowledge – for which you will be thankful when we’re teamed up in Trivial Pursuit.

How would you describe your ideal San Diego day?

Hike through the spring wildflowers in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Watch the July 4th fireworks over San Diego Bay. Eat Julian Apple Pie a la mode and check out the autumn leaves. Ice skate and enjoy the twinkling holiday decorations at the Hotel del Coronado. All in the same day.

If you were invisible, where would you go?

I’ve always wanted to be able to stop and restart time like that Twilight Zone episode back in the 80’s, “A Little Peace And Quiet,” but, you know, without the a-bomb at the end. Basically, I just want to avoid waiting in lines.

What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?

Brunch, without a doubt. Also, cocktails by the pool, outdoor movies in Balboa Park, scouring the swap meet for vintage finds, hanging out on the patio at the Casbah between sets, lawn games and backyard barbecues.

Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguine and red wine?

Give me uni plucked from the sea by local divers, a warm, crusty loaf from Bread & Cie, luscious Carlsbad strawberries, sweet local lobster in season and creamy Fallbrook avocados. And, most definitely, a grass-fed beef burger with Winchester gouda and a cold San Diego craft brew.

Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player are…

Honestly, I buy my records at the thrift store and depend on my husband to download new music. Lately he's been stacking the deck pretty heavy with 90's indie rock, bluegrass covers and drone metal.  Go figure.

For more San Diego dining dish, follow Kate on Twitter @katebuska.
Kate

Quality Social Mixes it Up for Cocktail Week

At Quality Social the "H" is for happy.

The San Diego Spirits Festival starts tomorrow and downtown’s Quality Social will be there with a booth serving Pickleback shots and tasters of their new Kitchen Cocktails.

Pickleback shots may sound quirky but they’ve got an impressive pedigree. At Quality Social, they pair a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey with a shot of homemade pickle brine to create their Pickleback shots.

With Kitchen Cocktails, QS is taking farm-to-table from cuisine to cocktails. Muddling farm-fresh produce from local purveyors into lively libations, bartenders create concoctions like the Strawberry Fizz. Made with fresh chandler strawberries from Crows Pass Farm, mint bitters, house infused lemon vodka and simple syrup, the drink is vigorously shaken, strained over ice, topped with soda and garnished by a slice of strawberry and organic mint.

Try them both this weekend at the San Diego Spirits Festival but, first, head down to Quality Social today and order up today’s Cocktail Week special pictured above. They are highlighting their signature “H” cocktail for just $5. Named in honor of one of their favorite bartenders on the West Coast, it’s an easily crafted, booze heavy, summer time porch-sipper.

1/4 oz simple syrup
3/4 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1 1/2 oz Square One Cucumber Organic Vodka
Soda
Cucumber slice
Fresh ground black pepper

Shake first four ingredients in cocktail shaker and strain over ice into a collins glass garnished with fresh cucumber slice. Top with splash of soda and finish with pinch of pepper. Enjoy!

Kate

From Garden to Glass at the Grant Grill

Summer's bounty on the rocks at the Grant Grill!

Cocktail Week rolls on toward the San Diego Spirits Festival with amazing specials on cutting-edge cocktails at some of San Diego’s most legendary bars.

Certainly, the Grant Grill at the iconic US GRANT falls into that category. The 100-year old hotel has cocktail history on lock down (with prohibition era tales all its own) but continues to look to the future. They recently transformed their downtown rooftop terrace into an intimate garden farm, growing produce that inspires the seasonal culinary and specialty cocktail menus at the Grant Grill.

There, super talented mixologist Jeff Josenhans creates seasonal cocktail menus utilizing ingredients that are grown in the garden. His recently launched summer cocktails, like the Cinnamon Basil French Julep, highlight the seasonal bounty of summer’s fresh herbs. To make this light, summery drink, Josenhans combines Pierre Ferrand Cognac and orange blossom sugar with muddled pink lavender and Cinnamon Basil from the rooftop garden before topping it with bubbly, delicious Moet Chandon.

Today and tomorrow you can order up a Cinnamon Basil French Julep or any of Josenhans’ signature specialty cocktails for just $4 when you mention ‘Cocktail Week’…now that’s reason to celebrate!

Kate

Coastal Cool: Ted Gibson at George’s at the Cove

Ted Gibson of George's at the Cove...gonzo bartender!

Are you looking forward to this weekend’s San Diego Spirits Festival and the Ultimate Bartender Battle?

Over the last few months, San Diego’s top bartenders have been battling it out for the right to represent their neighborhood in this ultimate showdown. This week, I’m sharing a couple recipes from the competitors.

Today we have the “Dear Rum Diary” from Ted Gibson at La Jolla’s landmark George’s at the Cove. This is the drink that snagged Ted top honors in the ‘coastal battle’ and it definitely captures that laid-back, coastal vibe:

2 oz Plantation Rum (Barbados 5 year)
2/3 oz Homemade vanilla bean/raw sugar syrup
2 Lemon wedges
3 Japanese shiso leaves

Start by muddling the lemon wedges and shiso leaves in a mixing glass. Fill that glass with ice and add the rum and vanilla syrup before shaking and straining into a cocktail glass over fresh ice. Garnish with vanilla bean pod fresh shiso leaves.

You’ll probably notice that this drink is half the ingredients and 1/10th the work of yesterday’s recipe. That’s because Ted’s focus was to create an original drink that was approachable, easily replicated and delicious in its simplicity.

The name, “Dear Rum Diary,” is a reference to an early Hunter S. Thompson novel (The Rum Diary).  Set in Puerto Rico in the 1960’s, it’s a story of love, jealousy, and crazy, rum-fueled adventure.

Sounds perfect for our ‘coastal’ winner…and I can’t wait to see what Ted whips up this weekend!

Kate

Mike Yen, Mixology Maestro of Avenue 5

Mike Yen works his mixology magic this weekend!

One of the highlights of this weekend’s San Diego Spirits Festival will be the Ultimate Bartender Battle. Over the last few months, San Diego’s top bartenders have been competing in neighborhood battles for the right to represent their ‘hoods in this ultimate showdown and, this week, I’ll be sharing a few recipes from the competitors…starting with the most technically challenging of the bunch.

The recipe below is for “Asians Driving Cadillac,” the drink that won Mike Yen at Avenue 5 top honors in the Uptown battle. This, my friends, is a master at work:

  • 2 oz – Milagro silver Tequila
  • 1 oz – Yuzu juice (filtered)
  • 1 oz – Aloe juice (filtered)
  • 1/2 oz – Lime juice (filtered)
  • 1/4 oz – St. Germaine elderflower liqueur
  • 1/4 oz – Milagro agave nectar
  • 2 slices – Baby ginger
  • swab – Blood orange perfume
  • 1 – Cadillac “olive”

Swab the rim of chilled cocktail glass with blood orange perfume. Set aside. Muddle ginger with agave nectar and St. Germaine. Add remaining fluid ingredients and ice. Shake until chilled and strain into prepared glass. Garnish with speared “olive.”

Sounds simple, right?

But, it’s all in the preparation. To get those juices to the perfect clarity, Yen filters them with grade 203 filter paper and a Buchner Flask. To create the blood orange perfume, he uses a microplane to zest six blood oranges and soaks that zest overnight  in a cup of Grand Marnier before boiling it down until only sugars and oils remain.

For the piece de resistance, the Cadillac “olive,” he hollows out a white grape before injecting a mixture of fresh blood orange juice and Grand Marnier that has been infused with calcium lactate. Then, he submerges the grape in a sodium alginate bath and allows the gelatin barrier to form and seal in fluid contents.

Why go to all the trouble?

Yen says “My inspiration was to provide a creation that offers illusion, flavors, and technique. The goal was to present the image of a dirty martini, but playfully deliver a completely different flavor profile by applying Asian flavors to a popular drink, the Cadillac Margarita.”

Mission accomplished. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with this weekend!

Kate

Cocktail Week Starts Shaking Today

Kick off Cocktail Week with a Pear Martini at BICE!

This coming weekend the San Diego Spirits Festival will take over Broadway Pier to highlight the region’s craft cocktail community and the talented bartenders who are shaking up the San Diego scene.

You don’t have to wait until the weekend to celebrate though. The fun actually kicks off today with Cocktail Week, during which area bars will be showcasing their tastiest concoctions and serving up delicious drink specials.

  • Jsix at Hotel Solamar is offering $5 house-infused “Chile Tequila” Shots for $5 plus 1/2 off Manhattan, Chili Mango Margarita and Aviation cocktails.
  • Downtown’s BICE is also going to offer select drinks off their “signature cocktails” list at half off – including the dreamy Pear Martini pictured above.
  • Quality Social will be serving up a new $5 drink special each day. Tonight’s will be themed to match their “Reel Quality” movie and tomorrow look for the “Chata #$%* UP!!” horchata cocktail to pair with their taco Tuesday specials.

With great deals on these mixology masterpieces and many more, Cocktail Week is the perfect introduction to San Diego’s sophisticated sips.

Kate

Run Away With A Citrus Circus In Little Italy

Sweet citrus! This Saturday at the Little Italy Mercato.

What do you do when life gives you lemons…and limes and oranges?

Well, if you’re the Little Italy Mercato, you throw a party!

That’s right, downtown San Diego’s favorite farmer’s market is celebrating it’s third anniversary this month with a “Citrus Circus” celebration tomorrow June 18th.  From 9:00 am to 1:00 pm this Saturday, in addition to the regular market festivities, you’ll find jugglers juggling local citrus fruit and a panel of local chefs and food writers judging original citrus-centric recipe entries by local chefs and home cooks.

Chef Jenn Felmley, who can often be found sharing her culinary tips at Pacific Beach’s Great News! cooking school, will be demonstrating how to make yummy Italian-inspired dishes by harnessing the power of local citrus in items like lemon risotto and a fresh arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette. Citrus farmer Linda Zeiser who owns Rancho Del Sol Organics in Jamul will also be demonstrating how to make the classic Italian aperitif, limoncello. Yum!

All this, plus two stages of live music with award-winning guitarist Johannes Linstead and, market favorite, Smilin’ Jack playing his Italian accordion.

Held every Saturday along five full blocks of Date Street in the heart of the historic Little Italy neighborhood, the Mercato is my go-to farmer’s market. Here, it’s not all about shopping. Over the last three years, the market has delighted the taste buds and sparked the culinary imagination of locals and visitors with fresh organic produce, farm-fresh eggs, meats, olive oils, pastas and cheeses; artisan crafts; live chef demos, tastings and more.

Every time I stroll through it’s streets I discover something new and make a treasured food memory. From savoring live, Point Loma sea urchins straight from the shell within sight of the waters from which they came to my first discovery of local taste makers like Viva Pops or Eclipse Chocolat, every Saturday at the market is an adventure. That’s why the Little Italy Mercato has a special place in my heart.

So, do me a favor, pucker up and say ‘happy birthday’ to the Little Italy Mercato this Saturday…mangia bene!

Kate

A Bevy of Easter Brunches

Hunt for Easter eggs in the gardens of Stone World Bistro!

Spring’s most decadent dining holiday is just around the corner and maybe you’re wondering where to get your eat on this Easter. Never fear my hungry little bunnies, this Easter Sunday San Diego restaurants are turning out egg-cellent brunches to tempt your taste buds. Hippity hop around town for these Easter day deals:

Coronado

  • Champagne buffet brunch in the Oceanfront Ballroom and Crown Room at the Hotel del Coronado from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. $78.50 for adults, $34 for kids ages 6-10 and kids 5 and under eat free.

Del Mar

  • Buffet brunch with complimentary champagne at Arterra Restaurant in the Del Mar Marriott from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. $49 for adults, $15 for kids age 12 and under, kids 5 and under eat free.
  • A la carte brunch with bottomless mimosas at Pacifica Del Mar served until 2:00 pm. Entrees priced from $10.50 to $21.
  • Buffet brunch on the Ocean and Sunset Terraces or à la carte brunch in Kitchen 1540 at L’Auberge Del Mar from 10 :00 am to 2:30 pm.

Downtown

  • Prix fixe brunch with bottomless champagne at Urban Bar & Grill from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm. $30 for adults, $12 for kids.
  • Prix fixe brunch at Chianti from 11:00 am. $30 for adults, $12 for kids.
  • Prix fixe brunch at Bertrand’s at Mister A’s from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. $35 per person.
  • Champagne buffet brunch with appearances by the Easter Bunny at Buster’s Beach House from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. $23.95 for adults, $9.95 for kids ages 3 to 11 and kids two and under eat free.
  • A la carte brunch with live music and a free glass of champagne or dessert with each entree purchase at Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm. Entrees priced from $9 to $17.
  • Buffet brunch with live gospel singers at the House of Blues from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. $40 for adults, $18.50 for kids ages 6 to 12 and kids 5 and under eat free.

Escondido

  • Buffet brunch and Easter Egg Hunt in the Stone World Bistro Beer Gardens at Stone Brewing Company from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 pm. $34 for adults and $12 for kids 10 and under.

La Jolla

  • Buffet brunch at The Marine Room from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. $55 per person.
  • Buffet brunch at The Shores from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm. $42 for adults, $20.50 for kids ages 6-12 and $3 per year of their age for kids 5 and under.

Continue reading

Kate

Searsucker. So Hot Right Now.

Searsucker says eat. Don't mind if I do!

Have you heard the news? OpenTable, the top online restaurant reservations site in the US, just announced the winners of its Diners’ Choice Awards for Top Ten Hot New Restaurants and San Diego’s favorite hot spot Searsucker took the number two spot in the nation.

This is a true national ‘people’s choice’ award and the field was huge. Winners were culled from more than seven million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 12,000 restaurants across the United States.

Brian Malarkey, the restaurant’s chef and chief merrymaker, sums the honor up in this way, “Searsucker is a restaurant designed for the people, from the food to the drinks to the ambience, so to be recognized by our diners is incredibly special to us.”

Located in the heart of downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter, Searsucker pairs approachable, playful New American cuisine with local craft beer, handcrafted cocktails and wines from all over the world. The culinary experience that won them the award takes place daily and nightly in an inviting dining room nestled next to an exhibition kitchen with bar-style seating where Malarkey is regularly seen cooking and entertaining the crowd.

How else is he keeping the people happy?

First dinner, then lunch and now, new for summer, brunch. That’s right, Malarkey and his team will begin serving up my favorite meal of the week on May 1st. Color me happy!

Kate

Nibble Your Way Through San Diego

The bruschetta at the Taste of Little Italy is the bomb!

From East County to the coast, San Diego neighborhoods are dishing up delicious tasting events this spring. These “Taste Of” events offer the opportunity to sample mouthwatering cuisine from each community’s best restaurants in a single visit.

Kick off your spring tasting tour in the mountains with the Taste of Julian on April 9 from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 on the day of the event. Participants can meander through town to sample small bites of gourmet delights like halibut Florentine, St. Louis pork ribs, wood-fired pizza and lobster bisque with sherry.

On April 17, head to the Taste of Hillcrest from noon to 4:00 pm and enjoy a self-guided stroll peppered with small bites ranging from scrumptious appetizers to delectable desserts at over 50 of the neighborhood’s top restaurants. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 on the day of the event.

Still hungry? Then check out the Taste of La Mesa on May 16 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm when more than 25 area restaurants will take over the city’s Community Center for an evening of delectable dining. Tickets are $30 in advance or $40 at the door.

On May 25 from 5:00 to 9:00 pm the Taste of Little Italy will dish up Italian favorites and much more. Participants who purchase tickets for $35 in advance or $40 on the day of the event can nosh their way through the hip downtown neighborhood and sample signature dishes from their best restaurants.

Wrap it up on June 18 and 19 with the Taste of the Gaslamp. Each day, more than 30 eateries will be serving up tastes so visitors can explore San Diego’s busiest dining neighborhood in one fell swoop. Yum!

Kate

You’re Irish? Me too!

Slainte at The Field!

They say everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. As we noted yesterday, that’s definitely true in the Gaslamp Quarter during ShamRock when the streets are covered with more than 60,000 sq. ft. of bright green astroturf and more than 20,000 revelers pour in to listen to Celtic bands and DJ’s as they party into the night. During this, the largest St. Pat’s party west of the Mississippi, there’s no shortage of Irish-inspired drink specials for Harp, Guinness and Jameson lovers and you might even find someone pouring a green beer or two.

Whether you plan to partake in the ShamRock raucousness or not, in my opinion, it’s advisable to make sure your St. Patty’s celebrations include a good meal and civilized drink or two. Just like most towns in America, there are many “Irish” bars in San Diego. That’s why, I want to share a couple of suggestions about where you can really find those smiling Irish eyes.

The Field is a turn of the century Irish pub that was shipped literally piece by piece from Ireland to in the heart of San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. It still boasts the warm relaxing atmosphere of an old Irish country pub and serves the simple, hearty fare that is the signature of Emerald Isle cuisine. Dig into a bowl of Guinness beef stew rich with succulent cubed beef, potatoes, onions and carrots and seasoned to perfection with fresh herbs and of course Guinness. Enjoy melt-in-the-mouth corned beef served with red potatoes and tender cabbage or shepherd’s pie, a delicious combination of ground beef, diced carrots, peas, leeks and parsley topped with fluffy mashed potatoes lightly browned under the broiler. If you aren’t attending ShamRock, pop in for lunch on St. Pat’s but don’t dilly-dally. The pub is a center point of the festivities and once the party starts, the focus truly shifts from food to frolic.

While I can’t promise The Ould Sod will be civilized on St. Patrick’s Day, I can promise it will be authentically Irish. This bar in Normal Heights, near North Park, has been Irish-owned for the last 20-years and is one of the oldest bars in town (the third-oldest, if you’re counting). Famous for a wild live music scene, it’s a neighborhood pub but the Ould Sod always makes visitors feel right at home whether they’re ex-pat Irish, San Diegan or guests checking out our town. Sit back, order a beer and by night’s end you’ll be singing your heart out with strangers turned pals.

Of course, if you really want to celebrate in civilized style, Loews Coronado Bay Resort is offering The Plough and the Stars Gondola Cruise. Sign up and you’ll enjoy a group gondola cruise through the canals and waterways of the Coronado Cays while tasting three Irish whiskeys paired with traditional Irish soda bread, Dubliner cheese and Irish sausage. The one-hour cruises depart at 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on March 17. The cost is $35 per person. Space is limited to 12 passengers per cruise. Reservations are required by calling 619-429-6317.

Wonder what gondolas have to do with Ireland? Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!